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Scientists have discovered that anorexia is related to metabolism



Published on Monday in the journal Nature Genetics, the study examined the DNA of nearly 17,000 people with anorexia nervosa and 55,000 healthy controls.

The researchers identified eight genetic markers that correlate the disease, commonly referred to as anorexia, with some of the same genetic factors that influence the risk of psychiatric disorders – such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety; high physical activity; and metabolic and anthropometric features, such as a low body mass index (BMI).

"When we think about anorexia nervosa, we have to think that it's not just a psychiatric disorder, it's a metabolic disorder," senior researcher Cynthia Bulik told CNN.

Why is that significant? Anorexia is often treated as a purely psychiatric disorder ̵

1; therefore, treatments focus primarily on behavioral therapy. This study would pay more attention to the metabolic components of the disease during treatment, which could help improve treatment and save lives.

The study may lead to the development of a drug for anorexia

[19659003] The study is both a breakthrough and a starting point, Bulik said.

Although researchers have now identified the role of metabolism in anorexia nervosa, they need to further study biology to understand what that role is and how it affects the role risk for anorexia. These include studying more DNA – targeting 100,000 samples – and working with neuroscientists and pharmacogeneticists to identify the underlying biological pathways and developmental treatments that actually target the disease's biology.

There are no drugs that effectively treat anorexia, and she is not convinced that medication alone will suffice. But it could help to recover and lower the mortality rate.

The team also wants to expand research on other eating disorders to better understand the genetic landscape of eating disorders as a whole.

In the meantime, Bulik said the team was grateful to all participants who provided their information and blood samples to the team.

"This work honors her suffering and the desperation of her families to understand and find effective treatments," she said.


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